June 26th Thursday This morning went to washing the windows
on the outside the first thing after breakfast and
got the chambers in order Heat the brick oven and
baked cake bread &c for tea and a custard pudding
for dinner John & wife Miss Wait Alson & wife
and mother here to spend the day. John is making
a short visit will leave in the morning for
home. Have been to West Point
Evelina put her chambers in apple pie order this morning and baked up an array of food. She must have been outdoors as early as seven washing her windows. No gardening today. She had important company coming. Her mother, brothers John and Alson, their wives Huldah and Henrietta, respectively, and another woman, Miss Waite, came to spend the day with her. The family reunion continued.
The occasion was so special that Evelina baked a custard pudding to serve at dinner. This was not usual fare for her, perhaps because it used so many eggs, and the Ameses didn’t keep chickens.
Evelina again mentioned West Point in her diary entry, which suggests that it was much in the conversation, probably in the manner of a place John, Huldah and Miss Waite had just visited. Why did they go there? Did they know someone who was just graduating? The United States Military Academy graduated 42 men in June, 1851, most of whom would go on to fight in the Civil War, 26 for the Union and 9 for the Confederacy. Many would also serve in the Third Seminole War in Florida or hold posts on the western frontier.
3 thoughts on “June 26, 1851”
Is it possible that “West Point” is some local spot that she visits? I ask this only because she says, “have been to West Point” and for some reason my transcription reads “west Pointy” which could be a misreading or a typo on my part or Evalina’s. In May she wrote about Susan walking/visiting “the west shires.”
On the other hand, indicating that West Point cadets may have been in the news, Thoreau’s journal refers to West Point cadets in August of this same year in the context of the haying season which has just been completed and at which Old Oliver’s men are working hard in June. I can’t tell if West Point cadets have been in the news recently or that Thoreau is complaining about the Mexican War yet again, because other parts of his entry refer to it
I have, moldering n the dusty computer file, pages of text juxtaposed with Evalina’s entries (although some of mine seem to be summarized) and excerpts from Old Oliver’s, and Thoreau’s diaries/journals.
“Is there not some work in New England men. This haying is no work for
marines nor for deserters –nor for U S troops so called nor for Westpoint
cadets –it would wilt them & they would desert. Have they not deserted?–
every field is a battle field to the mower –a pitched battle too –and whole
winrows of dead have covered it in the course of the season. Early & late
the farmer has gone forth with his formidable scythe –weapon of time –Times
weapon –& fought the ground inch by inch– It is the summer’s enterprise.
And if we were a more poetic people horns would be blowed to celebrate its
completion –there might be a hay maker’s day– New Englands peaceful
battles– At Bunker Hill there were some who stood at the rail fence &
behind the winrows of new mown hay– They have not yet quitted the field.
They stand there still –they have not retreated.”
Thank you, Dwight. Because Evelina writes specifically about West Point students in her June 25 entry, I’m confident that she’s referring to the academy. But your point is well made that the West Point cadets may have been in the news and thus were a topic of conversation. So many of those young men went on to war. What a great idea to dig up Thoreau’s journals to provide deeper context.
An email reader of this blog writes to suggest that Evelina may have been talking about Westport, a town in the Fall River-New Bedford area, not far from Easton. I checked Evelina’s original entry, however, and am 99% sure that she wrote “West Point.” Good thought, though.